Table of contents
About this book
This is not a piece of science fiction. It’s a voyage along the arrow of time to encounter the discoveries of the coming fifty years. The legendary palindromic character, Mr. Qfwfq, from Italo Calvino’s The Cosmicomics will go with us: he who knows all the answers, but will give out no hints. He goads imagination onwards and corrects customs by laughing. He will help us discover the innovations that will have changed our lives (and those of our descendants) in 2062, when, riding astride Halley’s comet, our omniscient extraterrestrial will be back to visit us.
What is left for us to understand and to explore is 96% of the Universe. There is still a long way to travel, but step by step we shall go deeper and deeper into the study of our Earth in order to exploit, for instance, the immense thermal energy that lies beneath our feet. We shall solve another enigma in today’s science, as big as the Big Bang – the origin of life – also by creating it ex nihilo. We shall learn how to build a direct contact between our brain (which is made like a three-flavored ice-cream cone) and the rest of the world: had Cicero and Mozart lived tomorrow, they would have been happy with the invention of a USB key to be implanted behind their ears, for an immediate transcript of speeches and music.
By means of genetics we shall obtain the talents of lizards, which regenerate their lost tails, or of Methuselah flies, which live four times longer than other flies. And shortly before Halley’s 2062 passage, the baby will be born who will see it three times, by living for over 150 years.
But the future is made mainly by the appropriate tools, beginning with maths. Solving the problem of prime numbers would send all cash machines off their rocker, thus emptying our bank accounts overnight. The solution to the equation of fluids will teach us how to carry an iceberg from Greenland to Sicily, thus supplying fresh water at a low cost. Meatculture – growing steaks ready for the barbecue and produced without killing animals – will supply us with all the proteins we need. By studying complex systems, moreover, we shall influence the climate and stabilize the economy, and in the process we shall save our planet. Perhaps when Mr. Qfwfq is back on Earth, the perfect truth machine will have uprooted lies from the world. By downloading the contents of our brains onto silicon chips we shall also grant ourselves immortality.